Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bending...But Not Breaking

As my belly continues to grow, I find that more and more people are asking me, "How do you do it all?" as they glance at my crew of 3 small children and the expectant bump proclaiming an addition to the madness. I'm not offended by this question because honestly I wonder this at times too. (and my old answer of LOTS OF COFFEE doesn't hold because it hasn't settled well in my stomach for months so I've had very limited coffee lately. gasp.) My days are filled and overflowing with children, children, and more children. (The other day Aaron was talking about swapping childcare with another family and I was all like, "Yeah, but I'm just not a kid person." And then we both stopped and laughed at the ridiculousness of this statement.)

Last Mother's Day, Aaron bought and planted 5 apple trees for me in our front yard. Come spring they were bursting with luscious white flowers, and they have bravely gone on to grow a LOT of apples. I was surprised at how fruitful they were only one season in. As the season has progressed, I have noticed those blossoms first growing into tiny apples and then bigger and bigger and bigger until the poor baby trees are now bending from the weight of the huge apples that they are producing.
It's interesting how theses trees are bending from the weight of the apples, but not breaking. Every day the apples grow just a little bit bigger. Every day the trees bends just a bit more to accommodate the weight of the apples. But not a single branch has broken.

When I walk past my apple trees to load my 3 little ones into the car, I notice this, and I without fail think-- that is exactly how I feel right now. Overloaded and bending under the weight of my responsibilities, but not breaking.
When I had just Addison, I felt this same way. When I had two babies under two, I felt this same way. When I added my 3rd baby, I felt this same way. Now struggling with pregnancy while keeping up with 3 extremely active children, I feel the same way. As my responsibilities have grown, so have my capabilities. It's a slow stretching that I didn't even notice at the time until I looked around one day and said, "WHOA. How am I juggling THREE KIDS? I struggled when I had just one baby. How did I get here (insert inappropriate birth control joke) and how am I actually pulling this off?"

I am the tiny apple tree (use your imagination on the "tiny" part...I claim pregnancy on this one). I am loaded down with blessings, GOOD things, a beautiful family. And I am surprised how far I can bend to do what the Lord has sent me to do without a single branch breaking.
(photo by Norrie Thompson)
We are going to pick those apples soon. (I already snuck a couple off and they are DELICIOUS.) The trees will grow that much stronger and be ready for next season. A slow growth with capabilities to grow more and more apples-- to bear more and more weight.
I didn't wake up one day and all of a sudden have a kindergartener with special needs, a preschooler with obedience struggles, a toddler whose mission in life is to destroy and mischief-make, and a baby girl on the way with a lot of unknowns. I grew to this place. Day by day, just doing the next right thing, loving on each child one hug at a time, putting in one more day of pregnancy, making it to just one more bedtime, enjoying one moment of children bliss at a time. The apples only got a tiny bit bigger each day.
I think this is why I'm not panicked about adding #4. I know it will be a transition, and at times it might seem impossible. But as our family grows, so will my ability to mother them. And as their seasons change and their demands in life grow alongside them, my tree will have the strength to carry them along because of all of my gradual growth up to that place. (growth that I really can't take the credit for)

Maybe it's a bit weird to feel a kinship with my apple trees, but hey, I've been accused (and guilty) of far worse. I feel the weight of being a special needs parent, of being a parent with three small children who are still working on being civilized human beings, of being pregnant, of being a wife to a man with such a demanding career that I am left alone with the kids all weekdays most of the spring/summer/fall, and the weight of trying to be a decent human being in the midst of it all (confession: I realized today that I scowl all the way through the grocery store as I juggle children, coupons, and more children. I will work on it.)

I'm bending...but not breaking. It's been a fascinating study to watch these tress continue to bend, and the beautiful apples that have grown out of those tiny white blossoms. Lucky for the trees, it's fall, and they will get a break soon from their load. Just in time to gear back up for another season. The fun never ends. (-;

I am thankful for my weights, thankful for the beauty of growth, and thankful for the strength of someone much bigger than myself who holds a hand out for those large apples to rest on just when I think my branch might snap. After all, he's the one who created the tree in the first place.

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